New vs old vs made to look old

Being more aware of the story of stuff (if I may briefly steal that great strapline but don watch the cartoon sometime) is key to reducing our impact on our immediate surroundings, as well as the bigger picture. This is particularly true when it comes to furniture – those statement pieces that we rest on, sit on, work around and store more stuff in and on. With all of these jobs they need to look pretty too! So it’s an important choice because it can make your life more comfortable, tidier etc etc. So no pressure then!

I like old pieces, things that already have a story. They look like they have character, well made so able to survive my young son and teenage dog. My kitchen storage is a 1950’s metal and wood dresser and my main kitchen work unit is old solid wood too. I don’t necessarily mean antiques. That word conjures up tiny narrow spindly legs, delicate ivory inlays and voices shouting “Don’t touch!”. Of course that isn’t true across the board but I like my furniture to be able to take life’s knocks – at this stage of my life anyway.

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Yet common to antiques and other old furniture they are generally made really well, with drawer bottoms that don’t fall out and doors that you couldn’t put a fist through and are strong enough to hang a mirror from. They also probably won’t be full of glue and thus emitting VOCs into the air you breate while you sleep, or eat or watch TV. From a carbon emissions perspective it seems obvious they are at least carbon neutral – it’s not being made for me. Today Greener Scotland is highlighting Emily Rose Vintage and her work on giving an edge to older items that may not have immediately appealed to the current aesthetic. It’s part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Design Doctor (#designdoc) campaign.

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Using vintage wood has certinaly been trendy – so much so you can now buy wallpaper to give the same effect and even new wood or MDF made to look like it. I don’t really understand why you would? Why not just use the original stuff? Salvo and BRE Ltd are looking into this exact question by asking businesses if they would be interested in buying from a ‘real wood’ label for restaurants, hotels and shops.

I think the people they need to be asking or influencing are the designers, those who are asked to put the interiors together. I found over and over again that so many will just go for the cheapest option to get the look right – for a business. It’s not always the same in a home, pounds and cents seem to matter less that the whole story. I was even told by a kitchen designer yesterday not to bother being green in a business kitchen build. But profit isn’t all that business is about? I don’t want mine to be but it’s a topic I’m going to have to keep thinking about and researching to get my arguments straight!

Author: Burmieston Farm and Steading

I live in Scotland with my husband, son and dog. We have a small bit of land with geese and chickens and a large derelict farm building we are slowly renovating into accommodation. I don't like doing things just because that's how they have always been done, particularly if they have negative impacts on the wiser environment. I firmly believe in the ecology of life - we and all of creation are all connected. We have to be conscious of our actions. This blog is about giving alternatives to the accepted way of doing things when it comes to interiors and building. I'm not particularly handy so the solutions have to involve other people who may not have the same ideas. But that's a plus because I'm out to find solutions everyone can use and integrate into whatever your 'normal' is.

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